Bill S5094-2013

Relates to the use of campaign funds for attorney's fees

Relates to the use of campaign funds to pay attorney's fees.






TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the election law, in relation to the use of campaign funds to pay attorney's fees

PURPOSE: The purpose of this legislation is to explicitly prohibit the use of campaign funds to pay attorney's fees or other costs associated with criminal or civil litigation.


Section 1 amends section 14-130 of the election law to expressly prohibit the use of campaign funds to pay attorney's fees or costs of defending against civil or criminal investigation or prosecution for alleged violations of state or federal law. The only exception would be for costs related to civil actions for alleged violations of Article 16 of the Election Law.

Section 2 sets forth the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: Currently, New York's election law, allowing candidates to spend campaign funds for "any lawful purpose," is among the most lax in the nation. While spending campaign funds for personal use is technically prohibited, the lack of any definition for what constitutes a personal use renders the provision meaningless. This shortcoming in the law is striking when compared to the detailed restrictions issued by the Federal Election Commission.

Campaign donors have a reasonable expectation that their contributions will be used for the candidate's election efforts and the execution of his or her duties,. They do not expect their contributions to subsidize attorney's fees or litigation costs that have nothing to do with the nomination or election of the candidate to whom they made a donation. This legislation would therefore clarify that campaign funds may not be used for this purpose while preserving candidates' ability to use campaign funds for legal fees directly involved with nomination or election to office.


EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the 60th day after it shall have become a law.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 5094 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE May 8, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sens. O'BRIEN, ADDABBO, AVELLA, BRESLIN, DILAN, GIANARIS, GIPSON, HOYLMAN, KRUEGER, PERKINS, SERRANO, SQUADRON, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS, TKACZYK -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections AN ACT to amend the election law, in relation to the use of campaign funds to pay attorney's fees THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 14-130 of the election law, as added by chapter 152 of the laws of 1985, is amended to read as follows: S 14-130. Campaign funds for personal use. Contributions received by a candidate or a political committee may be expended for any lawful purpose. Such funds shall not be converted by any person to a personal use which is unrelated to a political campaign or the holding of a public office or party position. NO CAMPAIGN FUNDS SHALL BE USED TO PAY ATTORNEY'S FEES OR ANY COSTS OF DEFENDING AGAINST ANY CIVIL OR CRIMINAL ACTION, INVESTIGATION OR PROSECUTION FOR ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF STATE OR FEDERAL LAW ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN COMMITTED BY A CANDIDATE, PUBLIC OR PARTY OFFICIAL, MEMBERS OF THEIR IMMEDIATE FAMILY OR DOMESTIC PARTNER UNLESS SUCH EXPENDITURE IS USED EXCLUSIVELY FOR COSTS RELATED TO CIVIL ACTIONS INSTITUTED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE SIXTEEN OF THIS CHAPTER. S 2. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law; provided, however, that the state board of elections shall notify all registered campaign committees of the applicable provisions of this act within thirty days after this act shall have become a law.


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